So…Bryce Cotton hit a game winner 3 point heave with 2.2 seconds left on the clock. This picture sums it up.
Seriously, Bryce Cotton was a superstar. He hit the shot that got the Friars a second road win this season. Mind you, this was no easy feat – this same Villanova team took the loss to the Friars the first time around and used it to beat Louisville and Syracuse in the Pavilion. So this win was kind of a big deal.
How’d it happen? Let’s talk about it after the jump!
Deja Vu: There were a lot of similarities between this game and the first matchup back in Providence. Foul trouble (we’ll get to that) and emerging leadership. Let’s start there.
If you recall the win over the Wildcats at the Dunk this season you’ll remember there were two players that fouled out for Providence. Kadeem Batts and Vincent Council. In this game, Council fouled out, which allowed Kris Dunn and Bryce Cotton to work in tandem to seal a victory. Well, once again it wasn’t the senior point guard at the end, but Bryce Cotton rising up and helping ensure a Friar win. With 44 seconds left the Friars were bringing the ball up court, in hand of Council. With the shot clock winding down Council drove to the hoop and missed at the rim. Normally this would be a nail in the PC coffin, but thanks to a tip out from Lee Goldsbrough the ball flew towards the top of the key and was recovered by Cotton. With 10 seconds left Bryce tried to regain control of the ball and heave a shot up from the waist. Yeah, I know – the Friar in me thought “welp, this game is going into overtime, these last second shots never…”
He made it!
He fucking made it!
The point is that Bryce Cotton was not the senior point guard we imagined, but he’s rising to the occasion. He’s becoming clutch. He’s dependable. And, as far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t need to prove anything to us anymore. He’s the guy. Not taking away anything from Council, obviously (he didn’t have a great game), but we’re watch the torch being passed game by game. It’s inspiring confidence.
The other similarity? Fouls. This wasn’t as bad as the first game, but when your team has more fouls than field goals by the end of the game (22 fouls to 18 field goals) something’s wrong. This also limited Kadeem Batts from getting involved in the game (Batts would only play for 17 minutes and foul out before the game’s end) and allowed Nova to out-rebound (38-33) and outscore (24-10) the Friars in the paint.
Soldier of Fortune: You know, I’ve been a big supporter of Josh Fortune since he arrived. I made a lot of arguments defending him, but it was tough to continue to make a case for him as he continued to have goose egg nights, reduced minutes, basically everything that says “you aren’t playing well.” And, while one night doesn’t change a season, it is a step in the right direction.
Fortune went 5-5 from three, including 4-4 in the first half alone. He wasn’t shook in the eyes of defenders, wasn’t staggered by the atmosphere of the Pavilion, nothing shook Fortune on the frontline. He played great. Behind Cotton he was the second leading scorer. It wasn’t that he shot the ball well, it’s that he played with confidence. That will get him more minutes, and make him a more productive player. Know what that will help the Friars with?
Sidiki No Show: Literally. Sidiki isn’t on the team anymore. According to Kevin Mac Sidiki Johnson is taking a leave of absence from the team, after a solid performance at Marquette and a DNP vs. UConn, Sidiki is gone.
I don’t really know what to say on this. On the one hand, we needed him and he was definitely getting better. On the other, you can’t miss what you didn’t have, and while Sidiki was on his way, he wasn’t there yet. Objectively speaking that’s my analysis, but on every other level possible I hope nothing but the best for this kid. I love seeing him in black and white and I hope he gets through whatever he needs to get through and can either rejoin the team or land on his feet okay. We all wish you well Sidiki Johnson!
Execution: The last four and a half minutes were painful. The Friars played stall ball and didn’t make any attempt to score on offense until the final few seconds of the shot clock. It didn’t work, and the Friars went on a drought while they were up 9, and the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run thanks to Providence not attempting to score and the full court press causing too many turnovers.
I don’t…understand, the game plan here (or if that was even the plan), but it wasn’t good. At one point the Friars had a two on one fast break and, rather than take it to the hoop, we slowed the dribble and ended up turning it over. I wasn’t pleased with that, nor was I pleased with the non-attempts at scoring. I’m not the coach, I don’t know if that was the strategy, but it didn’t sit right with me.
Player of the Game: Bryce Cotton? Josh Fortune? LaDontae Henton? Ted Bancroft?
Nah son, Lee Goldsbrough!
He played well, and really made some solid contributions at times. Wasn’t overall an astounding performance, but consider this – if it wasn’t for Lee at the end of the game tipping the ball out towards the key to get it in the hands of Bryce Cotton to hit the game winner, we don’t necessarily come out of the Pavilion alive.
The “WTF is this” of the Game: The seats that Nova gave Friar fans. I get it, the place sells out and you need to cater to your season ticket holders and fans. But c’mon Nova, even the bat at the Marquette game had better seats than we did!